June 29, 2011

Whoa, Dare Wright Lonely Doll Photos At Bonhams

How'd I miss these? Did I not scroll all the way down? I was just updating the price results on last week's kids book illustrations roundup [short answer: pretty rough if your name's not Pooh], and there at the bottom, the last three lots, are photos by Dare Wright from the Lonely Girl. And they sold. And for frankly not that much money! Crazy on top of crazy! Why is the children's book illustration market so blind to Wright's achievements?

I mean, these things really are pretty fantastic:

dare_wright_bon259.jpg
Lot 259: "He wrapped some more." from A Gift from The Lonely Doll, 1966, sold for $732.


dare_wright_bon260.jpg

Lot 260: "I want to pet one," from Holiday for Edith and the Bears, sold for $610.


dare_wright_bonh261.jpg

Lot 261: "Edith and Mr. Bear open the package." went for $610.

Which means that there were probably two bids for the first print [$500 and $600], but only one bid each for the last two.

[twenty riveting minutes later]

OK, I've looked through the normal places, and I can't find any examples of Dare Wright photos coming at auction before. Then I found my way to the Estate's official website, darewright.com, which was created by Brook Ashley, a family friend from show business who grew up with the Wrights, and whose godmother was, hello, Tallulah Bankhead. What an incredible story: freaky, amazing, stunted, advanced, touching, beautiful, painful, sad, and on and on.

Long story short, there may not really be much Dare Wright material out there at all. Ashley, who was Wright's legal guardian and sole heir, mentions stuff disappearing from Wright's apartment after visits from way-too-intense fans. But Wright spent the last six years of her life on a ventilator on Roosevelt Island [!], and her stuff, such as it was, pretty much dispersed or dumped. There was no sentimentality, Ashley said, but also no market.

And so we're left to wait for the nieces and nephews to recognize the haunting doll photos they find when they're going through the effects of their dearly departed, crazy, artsy, light-fingered aunts.

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